GEOPOLITICAL RE-ALIGNMENT IN MIDDLE EAST CHALLENGES & PROSPECTS FOR PAKISTAN
Since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the Arab Spring, the security dynamics in the Middle East has become highly complex. Uprisings of Arab Spring resulted in regime changes in some states, and it was expected to pave the way for democratic transformation in the region. Conversely, it brought political instability, turmoil, and civil strife to the region. It has paved the way for regional states to form global and regional alliances, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, United States, Russia and China. However, it prompted Non-State Actors and sectarian identity politics between Riyadh and Tehran, dividing the region into two blocs. Since 2015, both states have worked efficiently to balance each other’s regional influence and power, while also attempting to contain sectarian strife. These dynamics impact not only regional states but the entire world, and Pakistan is no exception. Despite Pakistan’s multilateral efforts to strike a balance between Iran and KSA in the past, divergent interests of both sides made it challenging, resulting in sectarian clashes within the country. Pakistan still wishes to seek a balanced approach, that may further its bilateral ties with both sides without any deterrents. Despite multilateral challenges, the recent political developments indicate an era of prosperity and development as efforts of reconciliation between Israel and the Gulf monarchies have been successful, as envisaged by the Abraham Accord. Evolving Middle Eastern developments and shifting alliances pose a variety of challenges for Pakistan, however its relations with Middle Eastern countries are expected to remain cordial and optimistic in near future.